Dial Up On Your Deal
Six Techniques to Adding Heat To A Lackluster Offer
By Denny Hatch
Direct mail maven and guru Axel Andersson has often said: "If you want to dramatically increase your response, you must dramatically improve your offer."
The old Ed Mayer formula for successful direct marketing—40-percent lists, 40-percent offer and 20-percent everything else—remains very much in play, whether the medium used is direct mail, e-commerce, telemarketing, off-the-page advertising or DRTV.
Why do offers make a difference? "Because," says British direct mail wizard Drayton Bird, "they enlist one vice—greed—to overcome two others: sloth and fear."
The Challenge: Improve the Offer Without Breaking the Bank
In his book "Profitable Direct Marketing," Jim Kobs proffers a checklist of 99 proven direct response offers. Included are: free gift, discount, sale, sample, time limit, guarantee, build-up-the-sale, sweepstakes, clubs and continuity, and specialized (offers that defy categorization, such as fundraising donation requests where nothing tangible is given in return for a contribution).
The beauty of direct marketing is the ability to test in relatively small numbers; if the results are positive, then you know rollout should be very profitable. When the performance of a direct marketing campaign begins to flag, it makes sense to assemble the marketing and creative teams with Kobs' list and figure out how to improve the offer. Using Mayer's formula, a new copy and design approach might incrementally improve results, while a powerful offer improvement can result in a breakthrough. What follows are six offer-improvement ideas that might be worth testing.
1. Free Shipping
This offer has been around for a long time. L. L. Bean used to include standard shipping in the price of each item, so it appeared as if it were free. The current catalog offers free standard shipping and a free monogram if payment is with an L.L. Bean Visa—a variation on the free-shipping deal and a nifty incentive for consumers to get the house credit card.